Apple expands Back to School promotion to include iPad purchases

Apple thinks more students are going to be carrying iPads into class this coming fall. And it’s got the gift cards to prove it.

As part of its annual Back to School promotion, which began this week, Apple has expanded the program to include the iPad. As in past years, college students buying a new Mac are eligible for a reward from Apple—a $100 gift card that can be used on apps, books, music, and movies. But students buying a new iPad are eligible, too: They’ll get a $50 gift card from Apple.

The Back to School program runs through September 21 and is open to any existing or accepted college student, a parent making a purchase on behalf of a college student, or a teacher of any grade level. To be eligible, you’ll have to buy through Apple’s online store for education, an Apple retail store, or an Apple-authorized campus store. Mac purchasers can save even more by using the company’s educational pricing discount, which includes every Mac in Apple’s lineup. (Note that the fine print for the 2012 Back to School promotion doesn’t include the Mac mini or the iPad 2 among eligible devices.)

This is the second consecutive year that Apple has revised its back-to-school offering. Last year, Apple broke with its long-standing practice of offering student purchases a free or discounted iPod, providing the gift card instead.

Why this year’s change? It’s clear that Apple sees the iPad as an increasingly attractive educational tool. Earlier this year, the company launched educational initiatives centering around its iOS devices, with particular attention paid to the iPad. This year’s Back to School promotion seems like part of Apple’s push to get more of its tablets into the hands of students—and to make sure those iPads are loaded up with apps once class is back in session.

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